Today marks two years since I had surgery to remove my cancerous thyroid gland. If you have read the summary about my background (here) then you know I was diagnosed with thyroid cancer in May of 2016. What a long journey it has been. I knew all about how my body and thyroid operated with Hashimoto’s because I had lived with that for 10+ years. Hashimoto’s is an autoimmune thyroid disease. I knew what to eat, how to exercise, and how to take care of myself in order to have energy and feel “normal.” And as much as I read and researched, I was not prepared for what my body was going to go through after taking out this organ. I knew there would be some differences, but it definitely threw me for a loop.
As I was reflecting on the past two years, I thought I would share 5 important things I learned since my surgery.
Don’t underestimate the thyroid and its connections.
What I didn’t know then was how much of an effect not having a thyroid would have on my hormones, adrenals and other body processes. I have now learned so much about how everything is connected and wish someone would’ve told me what to expect afterwards. I definitely feel like more help is needed in this area. This is part of the reason why I am studying functional medicine - in order to grasp the vast interconnectedness of the body and help others who have similar health struggles as myself. There is so much more to say so I can see a future blog post about this topic!
Be patient with your body.
Like most people dealing with chronic health issues, this is not easy. It’s always hard for me to wait and let changes happen when my body is ready to respond. For instance, when I want to feel like myself again; I want to be able to exercise without feeling fatigued or having my whole body hurt for 2 days afterward. Sometimes, though, the years of disease and inflammation need time to heal in order to progress to where we want to be - physically and mentally. I am not a very patient person, but I am learning that when it comes to health, patience is, in fact, a virtue!
Seek out help when you need it.
Help can be in the form of doctors, counselors, friends, family, etc. For me, it was with friends, family and finally sucking it up to go see a Functional Medicine doctor. I ultimately didn’t feel like this doctor would be worth the money. I thought I could handle my health problems on my own because of all the reading and research I did. But like most people, I needed to ask for help and not let pride get in the way. Conventional doctors might be good, but they often lack the training (and sometimes the education) to look beyond the symptoms to see how it’s all connected. In the end, it was very worth going.
Stop waiting for the perfect time.
If there is one point that is the hardest for me, it’s this one. I have done a lot of waiting these last two years. Most of the waiting was because of how I felt physically. But, I still constantly struggle with the “perfect time” to do anything. Whether it is a job, moving, starting a project, writing a blog, starting up my health coaching business, or wondering if my body is ready for a new challenge. I have seen growth in this area little by little in the last year, but I have a long way to go. If I continue to wait until the “perfect time” then I won’t have any time left. Life seems to get shorter and shorter by the day and I have to make the best of it, no matter how I feel today.
Friends will be there when it counts.
I am very thankful for the network I had during my surgery and the weeks afterward. I had close friends who came to wait in the hospital with my parents. I had other friends who dropped by to see me at home and brought food and flowers. My co-workers all sent well wishes and welcomed me back with balloons. And of course my parents who took care of me after the surgery too. I felt very blessed and loved during this time. I hope that you have a network to help you through the times that matter!
While these were specific to me, I also tried to make them general enough to apply to anyone. Maybe there is a tiny piece that resonates with you. If so, feel free to send me a message if you would like to share anything you have learned since having a health challenge, or if I can be of any help to you please let me know!